3 women accused of accepting over $850,000 in bribes from affordable housing applicants in Coney Island

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019
3 women accused of accepting over $850,000 in bribes from affordable housing applicants in Coney Island
NJ Burkett has more on the massive Brooklyn housing bribery scheme.

CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Three women who were in charge of selecting buyers who applied for high-demand co-op apartments in Brooklyn are accused of accepting approximately $874,000 in bribes from candidates.

The Brooklyn District Attorney's office said 71-year-old Anna Treybich, 66-year-old Irina Zeltser, and 38-year-old Karina Andriyan, all from Coney Island, were named in a 78-count indictment in which they face several charges, including conspiracy, larceny, falsifying business records, and degree commercial bribe receiving.

Between 2013 and 2019, the suspects allegedly conspired to steal and sell the right to purchase 18 apartments worth a total of $5 million at Luna Park Housing Corporation in Coney Island.

The bribes, in turn, were allegedly used to support the women's lavish lifestyles, which included luxury apartments in Florida and dozens of designer handbags, fur coats and jewelry, according to the DA's office.

The five-building complex operates with public funds to provide affordable studio, one, two, and three-bedroom apartments to working families. Luna Park's apartments were sold at prices significantly below market value and therefore were in high demand.

Most applicants spend years on the waiting list for Luna Park, but those who knew the right people and had enough money were able to shoot to the top, according to the allegations.

Treybich and Zeltser were members of the Board of Directors of Luna Park, and Andriyan was the complex's office manager who maintained all waiting lists for apartment applications.

In order to apply, prospective buyers needed various supporting documents including income verification, and in some cases, birth and marriage certificates. In exchange for bribes ranging from $10,000 to $120,000, the suspects were accused of falsifying these documents so applications could be approved by the city.

For example, Zeltser was accused of accepting $93,000 to help a person purchase a specific apartment by saying the tenant of record was her sister. To do this, Zeltser allegedly altered the person's birth certificate to reflect that her mother's name was Ida and her identity was Jewish -- just like the tenant of record.

"This case exposed a pervasive pattern of corruption and bribery in deciding who received an affordable apartment in the Luna Park Housing Corporation," Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said during a press conference Tuesday. "This case is also about working class families being deprived of the affordable housing they've been waiting for, being victimized."

The women were expected to be arraigned Tuesday. If they are convicted, they will face anywhere from five to 15 years in prison.


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